Too much time on the highway and in motels results in stuff like this. We are back now – I didn’t want to say anything, but might as well spit it out – I attended my fiftieth high school class reunion. I graduated from Billings Central Catholic High School in 1968. Good lord am I old!
A few reflections:
- I look pretty good. Most of my classmates have put on pounds and have not stayed in shape. I guess we just reach a point where we give up, but I have not yet gotten there. I still have dark hair, have controlled my weight, and work out often.
- We were a class of 115. Thirteen have died.
- My class rank was 87, and I like to joke that for that reason I thought our class size must have been … 87. I was not a good student, and did not light up until later, in college. I was told by teachers that I lacked direction, and that my standardized tests were in the high percentiles, so that I was underachieving.
- I think it was fortunate not to be a good student, as I missed a lot of brainwashing in the process. I did not, of course, do that as any sort of strategy. I was distracted. My home life was … dysfuntional.
- But most of it took, and stuck to me. For instance, I did not reject the Catholic Church until age 38. They got me good on that one.
- I did not have much fun in high school, and for that reason limited our time at the reunion to the first two days (of four). We also left each event, a social and dinner dance, early, after meeting and chatting with as many as possible, but as soon as I felt those old high school insecurities creeping in. The last thing I wanted was to be among the five or ten people still there at closing.
- Most kids back then were like me, unsure and insecure, discovering who they were and what they could do. I was not the exception. Homes like mine, full of drinking, anger and violence, are not unusual then or now. Most of us did not enjoy anything of those years other than friends made along the way.
- Those few kids who sailed through high school, gifted, good-looking, popular, like the quarterback and the guy who married the homecoming queen, are kind of boring. Maybe it is because they have not been knocked around enough in life. The quarterback especially turned out to be a jerk. He was at the reunion but in a bad mood, didn’t make eye contact and gave out fish handshakes.
- This reminds me – I played football. Our team had a coach, Don Christensen, who did not believe in trickery of any sort, only winning by being the better team. So when we lined up on offense, the signal was “Set! Go!” I wondered why not use a double “Go!” now and then to keep the defense honest, but the coach refused. So early in the game the defense was all over us on the line. Late in the year the coach finally relented and allowed us on one play only to use a double go. The other team, all six on the line, jumped offsides and made contact, knocking us on our asses. The referees were laughing as they marched off five yards. Then it was back to “Set! Go!”
Tomorrow or the day after, I intend to write the narrative of Jonestown based on everything we have discussed so far. I do not have answers, so I decided the best way to proceed is to simply write it out as it might have happened, guessing to fill in the uncertainties and even attempting to answer the question “Why?” Maybe some truth will emerge in the end. It has been fun so far – the comments have been superb.